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In response to recommendations in the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) report into the fatal incident involving the FV Myia in Galway Bay in November 2020, as previously reported on Afloat.ie, the Department of Transport is stressing the importance of navigation planning.

The necessity of ensuring all navigation is planned in detail from berth to berth, with contingency plans in place, applies to all concerned in the fishing industry.

Owners and relevant crew members need to familiarise themselves with their vessel, including its anchoring arrangements and any limitations of the anchoring equipment.

Owners and masters are also reminded that an efficient navigational watch shall be maintained throughout the voyage in line with the Basic Principles to be observed in keeping a Navigational Watch on Board Fishing Vessels as set out IMO Resolution A.484 (XII). Situational awareness with regard to navigation shall be maintained at all times.

All voyages must be planned using the most up to date nautical publications and approved admiralty charts and/or ECDIS. It is essential to carry out regular weather forecast checks during coastal, offshore and ocean voyages.

Shipowners, masters, skippers and fishers should particularly consider the following points when planning on going to sea:

  • Weather: Prior to proceeding to sea, weather forecasts shall be assessed and the means to obtain available weather forecast updates shall be ensured. The prevailing weather shall be monitored at all times. Where weather conditions are deteriorating and the safety of the vessel or crew is in question, operators should seek shelter or return to port.
  • Tides: The state of the tide and current should be determined for the planned voyage, task or activity. Masters and skippers shall ensure that the vessel or craft can be safely operated in the states of expected tide or current.
  • Limitations of the vessel: Ensure the vessel is suitable for the planned voyage, task or activity, that all systems are available and in good operational condition, including all appropriate safety systems and equipment which shall, at all times, be ready for immediate use.
  • Crew: Take into account the experience and physical ability of the crew. Crews suffering from cold, tiredness and seasickness won’t be able to do their job properly and this could result in an overburdened skipper. Prior to proceeding to sea, crew members should be well rested, fit and physically capable for any task that they may be required to perform whilst onboard. Masters and skippers should be aware of dangers of, and be able to recognise, fatigue and its impact on the safety of the vessel or craft.
  • Communications: VHF radio should be available onboard which is capable of operating on marine band Channel 16 to raise a distress and/or seek assistance. Skippers should not rely on mobile phones as signal availability can be reduced or lost due to range from shore and environmental conditions. Skippers should, prior to departure, advise the port authority or a designated person ashore of planned area of operation and expected time of return.
Published in Fishing

Dun Laoghaire senator Victor Boyhan has called for a more transparent and accountable Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB).

He has also called for a new mechanism to appoint members to the MCIB board.

Speaking during a debate on the Merchant Shipping (Investigation of Marine Casualties) Bill in Seanad Eireann earlier this week, Senator Boyhan recalled the EU Court of Justice ruling issued last year.

The ruling stated that Ireland has failed to provide for a maritime accident investigation body that was "independent in its organisation and decision-making of any party whose interests could conflict with the task".

Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB)

It was issued after a case was taken to Europe by maritime lawyer Michael Kingston.

Boyhan, a former director of the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company and a member of the Oireachtas Committee on Marine matters, called for “ a robust and properly resourced marine casualty body which has capacity, funds, resources, and organisation structures in place”.

He said that a full-time professional unit was required, and the public needed to have confidence in its work.

Boyhan also called on Minister of State for Transport Hildegarde Naughton to publish the Lacey and Clinch reports on the handling of maritime investigations.

He recalled that the Lacey report was undertaken by Ms Róisín Lacey SC, and was delivered on to the Department of Transport on August 25th, 2010, but remained unpublished.

The report, commissioned by the then Minister for Transport, Noel Dempsey, recommended establishing a national accident investigation office which was “independent in every way” from the Department of Transport, encompassing aviation, rail and marine, Boyhan said.

The Lacey report identified that it had to be done to comply with an EU directive that was being transposed into Irish law, he said.

“The Minister of State will be very familiar with this as I have seen her engagement on this legislation,” he continued.

The Clinch report was conducted by Captain Steve Clinch of the British-based company, Clinchmaritime Ltd, he said.

“The report was commissioned by the Department of Transport to carry out an independent review of the organisational structures of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board, MCIB,” he said.

“The key objective of the review was to assess the current organisational structures for marine casualty investigation and to set out in a report any recommendations to achieve the most appropriate and effective marine casualty investigation structures for Ireland, taking into account national, EU and international law and obligations,” he said.

Boyhan said the Clinch report was delivered to the Department of Transport in 2021.

The Merchant Shipping (Investigation of Marine Casualties) Bill will be back in the Seanad for Report and Final Stage next week.

Published in MCIB

An unattended electronic device, possibly a mobile phone on charge, may have ignited a fire on a west Cork fishing vessel which sank last year.

The Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) report into the sinking of the fishing vessel Horizon 20 nautical miles off the Old Head of Kinsale, Co Cork, on May 14th, 2021.

The skipper broadcast a “Mayday” on VHF and the four crew on board were recovered from their liferaft by the offshore supply ship, Pathfinder (italics).

Despite efforts to fight the fire by a responding offshore supply ship, Maersk Maker, the fishing vessel sank at approximately 07.00 hrs, close to the position where it initially caught fire.

The MCIB report said there was some sea surface oil pollution reported which appears to have dissipated naturally.

Weather and sea conditions at the time were good with light winds and a moderate sea. The crew, who were not injured, were subsequently transferred to the RNLI Courtmacsherry lifeboat and brought ashore.

The MCIB report found the vessel was materially fit for purpose and in a stable condition immediately prior to the incident, and its condition was not a factor in the fire and sinking.

It says while the cause of the outbreak of the fire is “not known with any certainty”, it is “ reasonably deduced” that an unattended mobile phone or other similar electronic device which was being charged and/or an electronic device battery charger into a 240V AC circuit in the crew accommodation cabin may have been the source.

It says a time delay in fighting the fire caused by the failure of the smoke detector alarm on board allowed the blaze to take hold and spread before being spotted by the skipper when he returned to the wheelhouse.

It says that exposure of the flexible plastic hose components of the vessel’s machinery cooling systems to the fire in the engine room - allowing them to melt and lose their watertight integrity – allowed seawater in and the vessel sank.

The report says that had the fire detection system onboard the fishing vessel been “more in-line with the more stringent requirements of the International FSS Code which requires the fire detection system to include both audible and visual fault signals, the fire in the accommodation cabin would likely have been detected earlier”.

However, only audible smoke detector alarms were fitted as the Horizon was deemed an “existing vessel” in 2007 when a relevant statutory instrument on fire detection was promulgated.

The report says that two of the vessel’s crew did not have the required BIM safety training courses completed.

The report recommends that the Minister for Transport should prepare and issue a marine notice reminding owners, skippers, officers and crew members of fishing vessels of the requirement to have basic safety training in accordance with statutory instrument 587 of 2001.

A marine notice should also be issued ensuring that fire detection systems and alarms are regularly tested and maintained in an operational condition, it says.

This includes “guidance on the inspection and testing of fire detection systems onboard fishing vessels of 15–24 metres in length”.

The report also recommends Minister for Transport should amend the Irish Maritime Directorate Strategy 2021 – 2025 policy document in relation to specified aspects of maritime safety.

Published in MCIB

A new bill with amendments to the law that established the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) will support its independence, the Transport Minister has said.

Minister Eamon Ryan last week introduced to the Seanad the Merchant Shipping (Investigation of Marine Casualties) (Amendment) Bill 2021, following its publication last November.

“This bill is a necessary intermediary step to amend the existing legislative framework for the MCIB in order to ensure and support the continued functioning of the investigative body in the immediate term,” he said.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, changes in the bill will facilitate the appointment of new members to the MCIB and are aimed at supporting its independent functioning as the State’s marine casualty investigative body.

The move follows a Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) judgment in July 2020 concerning the independence of the MCIB, which saw the resignation of two board members whose positions within the Department of Transport risked conflict of interest.

“This bill is a first step in a reform process,” Minister Ryan reiterated to senators. “I propose further legislative change in the area of marine casualty investigation arising from the completion of a separate review of the legislative and structural framework that applies in Ireland.”

He said the finding of this report “have been given consideration” and a policy proposal will be brought to Cabinet “in the coming weeks”.

Minister Ryan’s statement to the Seanad, which outlines the bill and its provisions in full, can be found on KildareStreet.

The bill was expected at Committee Stage earlier today, Tuesday 15 March.

Published in MCIB
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A 75-year old skipper may have become ill or got trapped in his own fishing vessel when finishing a day’s work close to the Donegal coast, according to the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB).

The MCIB report into the death of the skipper of the 9.2 m Teelin-based vessel Mirror of Justice on August 26th, 2020, says it would appear that this happened when the skipper was either beneath the wheelhouse floor or in the forepeak compartment as he was “not visible to a helicopter winchman”.

The Sligo-based Rescue 118 helicopter, the RNLI Arranmore Lifeboat, the Killybegs Coast Guard Delta RIB and shore crew, the Garda Síochána and a number of local vessels had been involved in the search for the skipper after his vessel was spotted drifting close to rocks west of Teelin Bay, Co Donegal.

The skipper was described as being a “fit, competent and experienced fisher, with a sound understanding of the risks involved in all fishing operations and who would have implemented appropriate contingency actions in the event of a breakdown or a distress situation”.

Due to an Atlantic swell, the vessel broke up on the rocks on which it grounded. Shortly afterwards the casualty was found floating nearby wearing flotation type oilskins but no personal flotation device (PFD).

The vessel fished for squid using rod and reel, west of Teelin Harbour, and had departed Cladnageragh at approximately 09.30 am, with an expected return time of about 8.30 pm.

The skipper had left a note for his wife to say he was going to “Green nose”, a fishing area between Slieve League and Rathlin O’Beirne, marked as “Giants-rump” on the chart, approximately 3.5 nautical miles (NM) west and along the coast from Teelin Bay.

The operation involves the use of several rods and reels and special types of lures called squid jigs. Squid are caught in areas with stony sea beds and finding an area where squid are present is a matter of trial and error or by using local knowledge. Any catch was to be sold to market.

The wreck of the FV Mirror of Justice Photo: MCIB reportThe wreck of the FV Mirror of Justice Photo: MCIB

Weather at the time was moderate occasionally fresh at first – Beaufort 4 or 5 (mean wind speed 15 – 20 knots) and occasional gusts up to 25 knots.

The winds gradually decreased during the period to light – Beaufort force 3 (mean wind speed 8 to 10 knots) by the end of the period. Wind direction was westerly and backed south-westerly later in the period.

At no time before or during the incident, were there any reports that the Skipper of the “FV Mirror of Justice” attempted to call for help either by VHF radio or by phone, which was found on his possession following recovery, the MCIB report says.

It also says he made no attempt to indicate distress with hand flares and there is also no evidence that he made any attempt to arrest the drift of the vessel by anchor or any other means.

The MCIB report recommends that the Irish Maritime Administration of the Department of Transport should intensify its efforts to promote maritime safety awareness.

It says this should be done “through a process of information and communication”, promoting “more effective communication between key stakeholders as detailed in the Maritime Safety Strategy”.

Published in MCIB

The Department of Transport is examining the recommendation from the Marine Casualty Investigation Board that new regulations should be made to govern the safe use of recreational craft used for commercial purposes, which should include mandatory fire detection on vessels used for charter purposes.”

It is likely that the MCIB recommendation will be accepted and that new regulations will be drawn up to deal with the issues raised by the Board’s investigation into a fire aboard a chartered cruiser on the River Shannon near Jamestown, Co.Roscommon, on September 8, 2020 when four people aboard were rescued by a passing charter boat.

As Afloat reported previously, the detailed MCIB report concluded that the fire aboard the vessel had “started as a result of one of a number of potential electrical issues.” However, it said that the extent of the fire meant that "the exact component at fault will never be definitely determined."

Charter vessels are not considered passenger vessels and therefore are not subject to the requirements of the Merchant Shipping Act 1992. Instead, charter vessels come under the legislative requirements and recommendations detailed in the Code of Practice for the Safe Operation of Recreational Craft (2017).

The cover page of the MCIB reportThe cover page of the MCIB report

The MCIB says that the CoP “does not provide for the mandatory fitting of fire detection systems on recreational craft and hence there was no fire detection system fitted to the Carrickcraft vessel ‘X4’ aboard which the fire occurred,

“If this fire had started while any of the party were asleep then the consequences could have been more serious.”

The MCIB report recorded that, on 6 September 2020 “four clients of Carrickcraft, having rented a Linssen GrandSturdy 35.0 motor cruiser on the previous day, departed Carrick-on-Shannonnheading south. Approximately 45 minutes into their journey, near Jamestown, a fire broke out in the engine compartment. The clients abandoned the vessel onto a passing charter boat. The fire brigade attended the scene and extinguished the fire. Soon afterwards the vessel sank in approximately eight metres of water.”

Firefighters bring the blaze on board the pleasure craft under control Photo: MCIBFirefighters bring the blaze on board the pleasure craft under control Photo: via MCIB report

Linssen Yachts commented on the MCIB report that it had been producing “this series of yachts since 2005. By now over 500 yachts of this series have been produced, both for private and charter use. Up to now, we have not seen or experienced a similar fire incident on these yachts.”

The MCIB has recommended that the Minister for Transport make regulations “to govern the safe use of recreational craft being used for commercial purposes, which should include mandatory fire detection on vessels used for charter purposes.”

Published in MCIB
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Mandatory fire detection on charter vessels should be “considered” by the Minister for Transport, according to a Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) report into a potentially serious incident on the River Shannon.

Four people who had charted an inland cruising vessel had a narrow escape when a fire broke out in the engine compartment last September.

All four were taken on board a passing charter boat, and the vessel sank in eight metres of water.

The MCIB report into the incident notes that charter vessels are not considered passenger vessels and are not subject to the requirements of the Merchant Shipping Act 1992.

“ Instead, charter vessels come under the legislative requirements and recommendations detailed in the Code of Practise (CoP) for recreational craft,” it notes.

This code does not provide for the mandatory fitting of fire detection systems on recreational craft, it says.

“ If this fire had started while any of the party were asleep then the consequences could have been more serious,” the MCIB report says.

The incident occurred on September 6th, 2020, when four people were on board a Linssen Grand Sturdy 35.0 motor cruiser rented the previous day.

The group had left Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim, and was heading south when approximately 45 minutes into their journey, near Jamestown, a fire broke out in the engine compartment.

The group stopped the boat and turned off the engine, the report notes.

“ As the vessel drifted to the side of the river, they re-started the engine and manoeuvred to the centre of the river again,” it says.

“ One of the party went to get the anchor which was stored in a locker under the saloon floor. At this point they found the compartment was full of smoke, so much so that it prevented them from getting the anchor out,” the report says.

“The vessel “X4” did not have a fire detection system onboard to give an early warning of a fire and there is no requirement in the CoP to have one installed,” it says.

“ After approximately ten minutes, and while standing on the swim platform on the stern of the vessel, the clients heard an audible alarm before leaving the vessel,” it says.

This was the alarm for the automatic fire extinguisher which is thermally activated once the temperature has risen to 80°C.

“The customers, already wearing their personal flotation devices ( PFDs) phoned the out of hours number for the charterers, Carrickcraft, but there was no answer,” the report says.

“ They then called the phone number for the Banagher Carrickcraft office and spoke to a member of staff. The staff member told them to drive the boat to the shore and get off the boat “as soon as possible”, and even suggested they jump into the water,” it says.

“ The service boat was launched in Carrick-on-Shannon, and staff proceeded downriver to meet the clients, as they understood from the clients that they were not near a mooring,”it says.

“When the Carrickcraft service boat arrived, the clients had already left the boat and had been brought to the nearest mooring at the end of Jamestown Canal. The mooring is 150 m from where the boat then was, but it is not immediately visible from the Shannon river,” it says.

“A Garda Síochána were already on the scene, as was the fire brigade, having been notified by a member of the public. Once the fire brigade established that all of the clients were accounted for, they set about getting access, via a farmer’s field, to the boat which was close to shore at this point,” it says.

The group was brought to a local, and soon after the fire was extinguished by the fire brigade the boat started to sink.

The fire onboard was extinguished by the fire brigadeThe fire onboard the cruiser was extinguished by the fire brigade Photo: via MCIB report

On October 12th, 2020, the owners appointed a salvage contractor, who successfully lifted the vessel from the river bottom, and it was lifted out at the Carrickcraft base in Carrick-on-Shannon.

“ A forensic investigator attended the vessel from Zetetech Forensic Investigators to assess the damage for the insurance company, inspecting it on October 29th and November 17th 2020.

The investigator considered the most likely cause of fire to be a defect in the electrical installation of the vessel.

“However, due to the severity of fire damage sustained and the subsequent sinking of the vessel physical evidence of a specific defect has not been found,” the assessor’s report stated.

“Overheating at connections on timer components associated with the thrusters was observed on a sister vessel,” the assessor noted, recommending that the electrical installations of all similar vessels are fully inspected and certified to ensure no defects are present and any incipient defects are rectified.

The MCIB has recommended that Carrickcraft should employ the services of an independent qualified marine electrician to inspect the remaining Linssen 35 vessels in their fleet.

It says the Minister for Transport “should consider making regulations to govern the safe use of recreational craft being used for commercial purposes, which should include mandatory fire detection on vessels used for charter purposes”.

It also says the minister should “consider issuing a marine notice about the potential risks of electrical issues with similar craft”, and should send a copy of the MCIB’s report to the manufacturer, Linssen Yachts BV.

In a brief comment on the report, Carrickraft described it as “excellent” and had only one comment to make in relation to the battery isolation switch. It said this was not “extra” but a replacement and change of location of the original switch.

Linssen Yachts said it had been producing over 500 of this series of craft since 2005, for private and charter use, and up to now the company had not experienced a similar fire on these vessels.

It said for safety reasons, it had checked several used yachts at its shipyard with the same type of shower pump timer relay and there was no visible damage or previous overheating of same.

In relation to the battery isolation switch, Linssen Yachts said the bow and stern thruster were used more intensively in charter than in private deployment of these vessels. Both being 12 volt, the thrusters require “a lot of current” which may lead to wear out of the main switch with intensive use.

The company said, “the main switch has probably been exchanged on the boat in question”.

Published in MCIB
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A fishing vessel which sank off the Wexford coast last January should have issued a “Pan Pan” alert, a report by the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) has noted.

Four crew on board the FV Aztec were transferred successfully to a paired vessel, FV Western Dawn, after the incident occurred at approximately 11 am on January 11th, 2021.

The position was 500m south of Duncannon Fort in Co Wexford and weather was calm with a westerly force four and slight sea state.

The 11.89-metre trawler with a GRP hull was rigged for mid-water sprat fishing with FV Western Dawn”.

FV AztecFV Aztec Photo: via MCIB Report

It had in the region of ten tonnes of sprat onboard and was due to offload the catch later in the day at Duncannon harbour, the report says.

The MCIB describes it as “a very serious marine casualty resulting in the loss of the vessel”.

It says both vessels had been pair trawling for sprat at this time of year for the past eight years, and the skippers and crews of both vessels were “familiar with the processes involved in this type of pair trawling”.

It says there were “no risk assessments or method statements for pair trawling listed in the FV Aztec’s safety statement”, and says “effective risk assessments and procedures would have highlighted dangers associated with pair trawling”.

The report says the vessel was heavily laden at the time and dependant on the buoyancy provided by the steering compartment to maintain its longitudinal stability.

“ Although not required, the FV Aztec had stability calculations done in 2017 for a condition with ten tonnes of fish in the hold. These stability calculations concentrated on lateral stability and did not address longitudinal aspects of stability,”it says.

“ Although no limits are set for vessels of this size, the loading of the vessel was a contributory factor in the sinking,” the MCIB report says.

“ This must take into account the weight of the catch onboard as well as the positioning of fish in the hold. The effect of the additional catch being taken on board at the time of the incident will have also caused considerable settling by the stern and listing to starboard,” it says.

“The combination of these forces will have left the longitudinal stability of the vessel dependant on the buoyancy provided by the steering compartment,”it says.

A hole in the deck went unnoticed when it occurred and “should have merited further investigation”, it says.

It says no alert was sent out by the FV Aztec or by the FV Western Dawn, and the first notification of the foundering of the vessel to MRCC Dublin was from the shore.

“ Although there was no imminent danger to life, as a serious incident occurred, a Pan-Pan alert should have been raised with the Coast Guard,” it says.

It says the steering compartment of the FV Aztec had no bilge alarm fitted, and no means of directly pumping out this compartment, and notes that a small drain hole allowed water to drain from the steering compartment onto the fish hold.

The report recommends that the Minister for Transport should issue a marine notice to owners/skippers of fishing vessels reminding them to be aware of the safe loading capacity of their vessels.

It says owners and skippers should be advised to be aware - where the stability in a loaded state is dependent on a compartment’s watertight integrity - it is advisable that the compartment is alarmed and has a means of being pumped out.

It recommends the minister issue a marine notice to owners/skippers of fishing vessels reminding them that where an area of the deck is subjected to regular working and shock loading, consideration should be given to re-enforcing and strengthening that area.

It says the Minister should review the Code of Practice for fishing vessels under 15 metres to take into account heave loadings on decks during fishing operations.

It also says the code should be reviewed to take into account the maximum load of bulk fish a vessel is authorised to carry.

Published in MCIB
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The annual report of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) for last year came a bit late this year to make as much impact as it could. It arrived in my email at the start of the month, a time when sailing and many watersports are not particularly active as the season has wound down and boats are laid up.

The Board has had a bit of a torrid time over the European Court decision on the appointment of new members, and legislation in this regard was still passing through the Dáil when the report was published. Also still in train was the review ordered by Transport Minister Eamon Ryan, to assess current organisational structures for marine casualty investigation in Ireland.

However, these should not take from the warnings of Board Chairperson Claire Callanan about the dangers in watersports. She includes sailing in her list, with rowing, canoeing and kayaking.

"The occurrence of so many incidents involving sailing, rowing, canoeing and kayaking in the last few years is of particular safety concern," she wrote in her introductory note to the report. "The MCIB is strongly encouraging all organisations, "especially clubs and commercial entities associated with water sports and water recreational activities, to audit their safety systems and to have regard to the Code of Practice and all guidelines or recommendations issued by any governing sports bodies. Safety in this sector is a particular concern. It highlights the dangers associated with activities that people participate in at many levels, including recreational and sporting. "It is imperative that any individual or group engaged in this activity realise the importance of adequate route planning and has an understanding of the watercourse," she wrote.

"incidents involving sailing, rowing, canoeing & kayaking is of particular safety concern"

This is also a trend reported by marine casualty investigation organisations around Europe. That is advice that clubs will have to take aboard. There is a factor to be considered, and that is the increased recreational activity on the water arising from stay-at-home holidays due to the Covid pandemic.

Clubs and sailing schools

That also highlights the importance of club membership and training. Clubs and sailing schools make safety on the water a vital issue for members. Those not members of clubs don't have to adhere to and may not be aware of safety requirements.

Reclassifying jet skis

One other safety aspect which needs attention is whether Ireland should follow the UK decision to take action to control jet skis, where there does not seem to be strong organisational usage control. The UK's Department of Transport has announced that it intends to "reclassify jet skis, speed boats and other recreational and personal watercraft to make users subject to the same laws and safety obligations as applied to those who operate ships. This would clamp down on dangerous, reckless driving of jet skis to protect the public and coastal areas," it says.

The UK Royal Yachting Association, while supporting the change, says the definition of watercraft is too broad and could affect other craft not causing problems. "There are aspects which are not appropriate for all watercraft. We have suggested changes," the RYA says.

Published in Tom MacSweeney
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An investigation into the death of a Galway fisherman who became entangled in gear off Salthill last year has found the weather deteriorated “significantly” after the vessel which he fished with his father left the harbour.

Tom Oliver (37), a relative of the Olivers who rescued two paddleboarders in Galway Bay in August 2020, died after he was dragged over the stern of the six-metre fishing vessel Myia on November 2nd 2020.

His father Martin, who was almost 62, was found dead at home the following morning.

After the incident, the then Mayor of Galway Mike Cubbard paid tribute to the two men as “salt of the earth” and “the best of friends”.

Cubbard noted that it was only a few weeks since he had recognised the role of their relatives, Patrick and Morgan Oliver, in rescuing paddleboarders Sara Feeney and Ellen Glynn after 15 hours at sea.

Several generations of the Oliver family have been associated with the RNLI lifeboat service, and members of the RNLI and the fishing communities along the coast and on the Aran Islands were among hundreds who attended the funeral of the father and son.

The Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) report into the incident said that “violent movements” generated by the worsening sea conditions while feeding out shrimp pots may have been a contributory factor.

The use of a mobile phone to generate a distress call, instead of a Mayday call over VHF radio, “added some delay, however short, in the alert of the emergency services”, the report found.

The report said a Mayday call over VHF radio would have been picked up immediately by Valentia Coast Guard, leading to immediate activation of the lifeboat crew pagers.

It said that activation of a personal locator beacon, which can be fitted to a PFD or lifejacket, would also have triggered an instant distress call.

It said the casualty was not wearing a personal flotation device (PFD) or lifejacket while operating on an open deck in hazardous conditions.

“Wearing a suitably specified and fitted PFD would have greatly improved his chances of survival,” the report stated.

The report noted that the crew were very experienced at potting in the Galway Bay area, and had been working on the twin-hulled vessel FV Myia for ten years, fishing lobster in summer and shrimp during the winter.

The report said that the weather “deteriorated considerably between the time the vessel left the harbour at midday on November 2nd, 2020, and the time of the incident.

“As seen in the Met Éireann weather report at the time of the incident there were near gale force winds, heavy rainfall, and rough seas,” it said.

“ These conditions were extremely challenging for a vessel of this size and construction and would have led to violent movements,” it said.

It noted that there are no manufacturers recommendations on the operational limitations of this type of vessel, and the manufacturing company is no longer in existence.

The report recalled that at approximately 1.30 pm, the men were resetting a train of pots when Tom Oliver got entangled in rope attached to the train of pots.

“ The weight of the train of pots combined with the forward motion of the vessel quickly pulled him overboard and under the water,” it said.

The Galway RNLI lifeboat operations manager was contacted by mobile phone, and he requested activation of pagers for an immediate launch of the inshore lifeboat.

It arrived quickly on the scene, and the lifeboat crew found the casualty caught in ropes and unconscious in the water.

The lifeboat crew got the casualty on board and immediately began cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It requested an ambulance, which met it at the lifeboat station.

Tom Oliver was brought to Galway University Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The lifeboat then launched again to escort the fishing vessel Myia back to the harbour.

The MCIB recommends that the Minister for Transport should issue marine notices reminding fishing crew of the obligation to wear a PFD while working on open decks, and of the dangers associated with snagging in gear while setting trains of pots.

It also recommends that the minister issue marine notices to encourage use of VHF radio for distress calls, to point out the limitations of mobile phones for this purpose, and to advise fishers to know the limitations of vessels and to be aware always of weather forecasts before going to sea.

Published in MCIB
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Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) in Ireland Information

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is a charity to save lives at sea in the waters of UK and Ireland. Funded principally by legacies and donations, the RNLI operates a fleet of lifeboats, crewed by volunteers, based at a range of coastal and inland waters stations. Working closely with UK and Ireland Coastguards, RNLI crews are available to launch at short notice to assist people and vessels in difficulties.

RNLI was founded in 1824 and is based in Poole, Dorset. The organisation raised €210m in funds in 2019, spending €200m on lifesaving activities and water safety education. RNLI also provides a beach lifeguard service in the UK and has recently developed an International drowning prevention strategy, partnering with other organisations and governments to make drowning prevention a global priority.

Irish Lifeboat Stations

There are 46 lifeboat stations on the island of Ireland, with an operational base in Swords, Co Dublin. Irish RNLI crews are tasked through a paging system instigated by the Irish Coast Guard which can task a range of rescue resources depending on the nature of the emergency.

Famous Irish Lifeboat Rescues

Irish Lifeboats have participated in many rescues, perhaps the most famous of which was the rescue of the crew of the Daunt Rock lightship off Cork Harbour by the Ballycotton lifeboat in 1936. Spending almost 50 hours at sea, the lifeboat stood by the drifting lightship until the proximity to the Daunt Rock forced the coxswain to get alongside and successfully rescue the lightship's crew.

32 Irish lifeboat crew have been lost in rescue missions, including the 15 crew of the Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) lifeboat which capsized while attempting to rescue the crew of the SS Palme on Christmas Eve 1895.

FAQs

While the number of callouts to lifeboat stations varies from year to year, Howth Lifeboat station has aggregated more 'shouts' in recent years than other stations, averaging just over 60 a year.

Stations with an offshore lifeboat have a full-time mechanic, while some have a full-time coxswain. However, most lifeboat crews are volunteers.

There are 46 lifeboat stations on the island of Ireland

32 Irish lifeboat crew have been lost in rescue missions, including the 15 crew of the Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) lifeboat which capsized while attempting to rescue the crew of the SS Palme on Christmas Eve 1895

In 2019, 8,941 lifeboat launches saved 342 lives across the RNLI fleet.

The Irish fleet is a mixture of inshore and all-weather (offshore) craft. The offshore lifeboats, which range from 17m to 12m in length are either moored afloat, launched down a slipway or are towed into the sea on a trailer and launched. The inshore boats are either rigid or non-rigid inflatables.

The Irish Coast Guard in the Republic of Ireland or the UK Coastguard in Northern Ireland task lifeboats when an emergency call is received, through any of the recognised systems. These include 999/112 phone calls, Mayday/PanPan calls on VHF, a signal from an emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) or distress signals.

The Irish Coast Guard is the government agency responsible for the response to, and co-ordination of, maritime accidents which require search and rescue operations. To carry out their task the Coast Guard calls on their own resources – Coast Guard units manned by volunteers and contracted helicopters, as well as "declared resources" - RNLI lifeboats and crews. While lifeboats conduct the operation, the coordination is provided by the Coast Guard.

A lifeboat coxswain (pronounced cox'n) is the skipper or master of the lifeboat.

RNLI Lifeboat crews are required to follow a particular development plan that covers a pre-agreed range of skills necessary to complete particular tasks. These skills and tasks form part of the competence-based training that is delivered both locally and at the RNLI's Lifeboat College in Poole, Dorset

 

While the RNLI is dependent on donations and legacies for funding, they also need volunteer crew and fund-raisers.

© Afloat 2020

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